Updated: Sep 13
I’m not that skeleton they found.
I’m not the pile of naked branches
in which children have built their second homes.
I wasn’t alive for the Holocaust so
I’m not a sallow bar of soap. I don’t
have the waxy skin of a marionette.
I’m not the one holding Dad’s hand,
I don’t have clasped white knuckles.
I’m not stealing ten pounds from
your dresser—or fifty, or a hundred.
I’m not still doing that.
I didn’t call Mum a cunt the first Christmas
she locked me out. I’m not trapped
in the reflection of a glistening knife’s-edge.
This isn’t the fifth time.
I haven’t been wading in water; I’m no
untapped vein. The morning, it breaks.
I’m not walking into the light to leave,
I don’t want to be free-floating, caught
in God’s hands or a tractor beam.
In my bed, I wake up screaming:
I want my life; I want my life.
A Minute More
A brownie-camp sun suggests
nostalgia can be felt in the weather,
or in the hand, outstretched and motoring
through velociraptor grass. In the
biscuit tin that hides the pins to sew the sash.
In pigtails or bunkbeds or walking
two by two through churchyards,
little mites and midges, up to their knees
in a stream. First summers of heat and grass,
the sweet smell of cow parsley, or was it hemlock
in the hedgerows. Or perhaps it can be found in the sound
of frozen peas in a metal pan. In a caravan evening,
the bruised dusk over Ullswater. Or under
a great steel bridge in the claws of a crayfish,
in the condensation collected on luminous cagoules.
It can be found in chin-tucked looks down to Mum
tying shoes. The heather-struck hills, the
beckoned fingers of furled ferns,
hidden away in senescent wood all fat and bowing
from the hot rain. A whippersnapper candle
suggests it can be felt in the fumbled light
gathered in the hearth. Or in the fermented
wet soil down the garden path, the pique of the
steady drip, an uncharismatic roof. It can be found
in the primordial slime of my racing snails,
the slippery oafs, their chase laid.
Alone in the low light, I was squinting and sheathed
in a sleeping bag, cheering them on.
Once, we were in the devil’s smithy
no more a hospital than ground is sky.
Groaned around the stench of a lanced boil,
sweated dark cuts by candlelight.
Trusted gold touch piece, clutched for
healing. Leeched melancholy, drained
phlegm. Clenched jaw around a wooden
spoon screaming, the heavy pant of saw.
The noise of it all, wailed confessions to Mary,
bewitched leg flecked with rhubarb powder,
juniper water and mustard oil. Vain faith placed
in vinegar-soaked cloth, lain down heavy
with another lead cross. But here is our divine future:
with a surgeon’s hands inside her head a woman will
continue to sing. Gratitude is buried with all
your dead; she will not feel a thing.
the drink that i was handed was an amaretto coke
you can pop a balloon with just a little poke
i left my hometown to make myself some friends
you can kill a flower just by cutting off the stem
he serves me at the checkout, he’s helped me change a tire
have you ever seen a fox that’s been caught in chicken wire?
the screaming of its struggle as summer bubbles him to soup
wire cutter pity and he’ll thank you in the coop
the drink that i was handed was the dirty blood of christ
and what i had between my legs was girlish sacrifice
i never got to realise what was special about sex
before i became half part of the half things that you left
the drink that i was handed was a glass of dry white wine
the drink that i was handed was tequila sans the lime
the drink that i was handed was the skeletal remains of
who took the drink before me all the girls without a
name. the drink that i was handed was a bowl of lukewarm spit
and rape me by nirvana was playing in 8-bit
skin as white as milk, skin so quick to spoil
I am curdled, I am creamy, I am split, as slick as oil
the drink that i was handed was a virgin white russian
you can bruise a peach with the sound of percussion
you can stain a bed only with a drop of ink
you can waste a woman by handing her a drink.
The Truth is Out There
Me and Fox Mulder are in a cahoots
crisis. With me, in bits, dismissed
from the spacecraft. And him,
on the TV, adjusting the contrast.
No, I wasn’t around for those cattle
mutilations. My post pile, sour milk,
and dead fish need addressing. I brush
my teeth thrice for each hour I find missing.
Mulder insists I’m a victim, my remote
mutes his screams, with ease, while
I’m tracing crop circles in the dust on
the screen. Do you think that I’m spooky?
I see me as lucky! Though, of course,
very concerned with the disappearance of
Scully. Gone in a flush—my meds
just never agreed with the feds
or the aliens or the talking TV.
So, now we see it, hovered on the horizon
there’s a van parked outside
offering ‘Flooring By Ivan’
but after the sighting
I’m not frightened,
I don’t panic; both Mulder and I
evaporate into static.